NBL Awards: Kevin Lisch Claims MVP trophy

PERTH Wildcats guard Kevin Lisch has taken out the Andrew Gaze Trophy as the NBL's most valuable player. Lisch had an outstanding season, averaging 17.6 points during his 28 games to guide the Wildcats to second spot and a 26th straight playoffs appearance. The American import polled 105 votes in the count to claim the coveted award from Cairns Taipans guard Jamar Wilson (97), Sydney’s Julian Khazzouh (94) and New Zealand’s Cedric Jackson (94). Lisch, who was also named in the NBL's All-Star team, becomes just the second Wildcats player to win the league’s top individual honour after former captain Paul Rogers in 2000. "It's amazing, I can't even describe it," Lisch said. "I really had no visions of this happening. I didn’t think of it even leading up to the awards night really. "It was pretty much all about being focused on getting better and trying to win a championship. This is just a great honour. To look at the guys who have won it before is just pretty amazing." It was a memorable night for Perth at the league's end of season awards ceremony in Melbourne, with guard Damian Martin and forward Jesse Wagstaff also taking out major awards. Martin was named the league’s best defensive player for a second straight year, polling 59 votes to finish well clear of New Zealand’s Mika Vukona (44) and Gold Coast’s Adam Gibson (21). The 27-year-old averaged 2.2 steals, 3.8 defensive rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game during the season after missing the first two months of the campaign with an unusual toe injury. Martin is the eighth multiple winner of the award, but surprisingly is the only Wildcat to have received the honour. Wagstaff was named the NBL’s best sixth man after a standout season off the bench that included a career-high average of 11.5 points per game. The 2010 rookie of the year received 67 votes to ensure he comfortably finished ahead of New Zealand’s Alex Pledger (20). Wagstaff earlier missed out on the league’s most improved player award, which went to Adelaide’s Daniel Johnson, who polled two more votes than the Wildcat. Martin and Wagstaff were also named in the NBL All-Star third team. Sydney young gun Anatoly Bose was named rookie of the year, following in the footsteps of Kings teammate Ben Madgen, who took out the award last year. Bose amassed 68 votes to easily claim the award from Adelaide’s Everard Bartlett (38) and Chris Cedar (28). Perth’s Greg Hire polled 11 votes. New Zealand coach Andre Lemanis pipped Cairns counterpart Aaron Fearne for the Lindsay Gaze Trophy as the league’s top coach. Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge was fourth with 22 votes behind Lemanis (53), Fearne (50) and Townsville’s Paul Woolpert (23). Whistleblower Michael Aylen was crowned referee of the year for a third time ahead of his trip to London later this year to officiate at the Olympic Games. Video not available
Via (PerthNow)

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